Brilliant & Black: Sotheby’s Historic Black Designer Jewelry Auction

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By Lesley Green-Rennis

  • Sotheby’s premiered the 1st-ever exclusively Black jewelry designer exhibition  highlighting 21 jewelers and 63 pieces
  • The global jewelry market is expected to reach $266.5B by 2027

Though artists of color have fought their way into industries and been acknowledged for other creative works, Black jewelry designers have remained largely unnoticed. That is until now. Sotheby’s New York unveiled Brilliant and Black: A Jewelry Renaissance, the first selling exhibit of its kind, dedicated to showcasing the extraordinary skill, imagination, and craftsmanship of Black jewelry designers in the  global jewelry market that’s expected to reach $266.5 billion by 2027.

Why This Matters: As Melanie Grant, a London-based journalist who specializes in luxury with a focus on jewelry, watched the political unrest and racial reckoning of 2020, she felt compelled to act. Given her background in art, writing, and jewelry, she naturally gravitated towards telling the stories of talented Black jewelry designers.

She brought the idea to Sotheby’s, whose director of jewelry Frank Everett, championed the idea, acknowledging such a spotlight was long past due. Together they created Brilliant and Black, highlighting 21 jewelers and 63 pieces. Selling their pieces at Sotheby’s, an auction house which typically sells art, will be the first auction show for the 19 living designers included in the exhibition.  

What’s Next: Working with Sotheby’s, rather than a gallery or traditional retailer, was a deliberate choice. Ms. Grant wanted to help Black designers showcase their work in a public-facing market, one that would open doors and make space at historically exclusive tables. The Black jewelry designers are able to tell their unique stories in the same way that fine artists are introduced in galleries and at auctions. Pieces will start at $1,500 and go up to $1 million and the auction will end in October.

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Lesley Green-Rennis

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